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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Band of Horses, Southern Avenue, Danielia Cotton, Hush Club, Season of the Senses in New Music bin

Band of Horses: Crutch

Five-plus years after Why Are You OK comes the first taste of Things Are Great, the upcoming sixth album from Ben Bridwell and his stablemates. This guitar-driven song plays on the words crutch and crush. Says Bridwell: "Obviously ‘Crutch’ means some of the things that I was dependent on. My relationship for one. I think I wanted to say, ‘I’ve got a crush on you,’ and I thought it was funny how relationships also feel like crutches. I feel like everybody has had a time when nothing goes right and you still have to carry on. I think that feeling hits you in this song even if you don’t know what the specifics are.”

Southern Avenue: Push Now

We're late catching up to Be the Love You Want, the third album from this Memphis-based outfit. AllMusic wrote that "this set adds big-beat R&B and funk" to the group's mix of blues and soul "without sacrificing any of their rootsy appeal. ... Further, the songwriting towers above previous efforts." It was co-produced by the band's lead guitarist, Ori Naftali, and Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, who "brought in horns, additional keys, and backing singers. They created a studio atmosphere to highlight the sublime, resonant lead vocals (and lyrics) of Tierinii Jackson with a new emphasis on their killer rhythm section of drummer and backing vocalist Tikyra Jackson, and rocksteady bassist Evan Sarver."

Danielia Cotton: Supercool

This is the second single to come out ahead of the New York-based singer's next album, following title track "Good Day." Both songs were co-written with Nashville songwriter Jeff Cohen, and both have a sunny outlook that contrasts with some of Cotton's more serious compositions. This track is a straight-up love song with echoes of '70s R&B. The advance publicity promises the January release will include a wide range of tunes: "Once again, [Cotton] will go from soul to arena-like rock to a beautiful moaning blues ballad."

Hush Club: One More Year

Another band formed in the big college town that is Boston, this trio is about to release its second album, Fingerprints & Stains. Their music is billed as "weaving together finely crafted melodies, lush textures, and soul-searching poetry." Alasdair MacKenzie (bass, vocals), Chris Haley (guitar, vocals), and Liz Kantor (keys, vocals) cite Fleet Foxes and Dawes among their influences, and this track also would mix well with the likes of Real Estate and Wilco.

Season of the Senses: Young & Strange

We're always happy to add new and different sounds to our mix, so we bring you the debut single by this duo from Guelph, Ontario. Multi-instrumentalist Damian Weston and singer Elena Stocco met in a local online group early this year. Weston, who'd been creating music for film and TV, was looking for a collaborator and found Stocco, for whom singing was "just a hobby." Weston told local news site Guelph Today that when he heard Stocco sing, "it blew my mind that she was not professionally trained." And Stocco said when she heard samples of Weston's compositions, "I was kind of blown away by the songs he has in the works." They began working together remotely and recorded this song before ever meeting in person. (They have, since, and have more songs on the way).

Saturday, October 16, 2021

New music from Sam Fender, Sean McConnell, Shannon Lay, Katherine Aly, The Record Company

Sam Fender: Get You Down

Photo by Charlotte Patmore
This UK singer-songwriter mines adolescent memories for several songs on his just-released second album, Seventeen Going Under. Our pick for the New Music bin, which seems to recall a schoolyard enemy, "erupts in a guitar-saxophone duel and climaxes with a swarm of strings," writes Pitchfork. "There’s no hiding the influence of Springsteen’s lyrical prowess and the E Street Band’s orchestral grandeur on Fender’s work, as well as the Boss’ 21st-century acolytes like the War on Drugs and the Killers." In fact, at times his vocals remind us just a bit of Brandon Flowers.

Sean McConnell: What the Hell Is Wrong With Me?

This Nashville songwriter has written for numerous country, rock and pop artists as well as releasing his own material. His new album, A Horrible Beautiful Dream, is his tenth, featuring his powerful voice and "storyteller style ... a la Springsteen, Prine, and Townes Van Zandt," writes Roughstock in a review that describes this track as "a melodically rollicking look at why someone does the things they do in life. They know they shouldn’t do something yet there they are doing that exact thing."

Shannon Lay: A Thread to Find

A California native who came up through the LA garage-punk scene, Lay has pursued "a radically different solo career steeped in thoughtful, psychedelic-infused indie folk," as AllMusic describes it. Geist is her second LP on the Sub Pop label. This song, Lay says, "is about finding pieces of yourself in unfamiliar places, It is about watching the people around you grow and evolve, and admiring the chaos and the beauty of discovering new worlds within ourselves.” The lyric concludes: "You're on your own but not alone."

Katherine Aly: Pariah

This is the latest in a string of singles leading up to a planned debut EP by this Edinburgh-based alt-pop artist. The song has a message of tolerance - or of intolerance for intolerance. Born in Greece, Aly tells On Magazine: "‘Pariah’ is a very special release for me. I finally found the courage as a woman, an immigrant and an artist to talk openly about discrimination and on top of that invite other people to use ‘Pariah’ as a platform to address other forms of prejudice."

The Record Company: Gotta Be Movin'

We've been spinning the single "How High," and now with the release of the LP Play Loud we're featuring another boisterous track from the LA trio. Bassist Alex Stiff says: “We totally flipped the process on this record to allow for every idea and possibility, so it wasn’t just the three of us closed off in our bubble. It was like, ‘Let’s take some risks and see what we can really do.'” That approach included hiring outside songwriters as collaborators, including producer Dave Sardy, and using overdubs to fatten the sound, reports American Songwriter, adding: "There’s enough grit mixed with the slicker production to keep existing fans happy while possibly bringing new ones to the table." 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

The Latest from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Wild Feathers, Lala Lala, Sting, Modest Mouse

St. Paul & The Broken Bones: Last Dance

The eight-piece band from Birmingham, Ala., will release its fourth album, The Alien Coast, in January. Frontman Paul Janeway says this first single is about "the juxtaposition of dancing while facing certain doom ... Like dancing through a Mad Max scene."

The Wild Feathers: Alvarado

The Nashville-based quintet wrote this song several years ago and "rediscovered" it while going through unreleased material to put together the 2020 collection Medium Rarities. It ended up becoming the title track for the just-released new LP, which the band self-produced while hunkered down in a small cabin northwest of their home city.

Lala Lala: Diver

Chicago musician Lillie West has just released her third album, I Want the Door to Open. Under the Radar magazine writes that the LP is "introspective and existential, atmospheric and surreal" and a departure from 2018's more guitar-driven The Lamb. A key line in this track - "I can't look directly at it / Your face distorted in the window" - touches a recurring theme of difficulty in seeing oneself and others clearly.

Sting: Rushing Water

The veteran musician says this song "is a fitting start to an album that seeks to bridge all of the petty differences that can separate us.” Titled The Bridge, the LP is due next month. Stereogum writes that the track has a bit of an echo of classic Police, "with a hard-slapping backbeat and some slick palm-muted guitar action."

Modest Mouse: The Sun Hasn't Left

Here's another cut from The Golden Casket, released this summer by the Portland, Ore., band. Spin writes that the song "makes creative use of new-wave beats" and offers a hopeful message with lyrics like: “You’re not wrong, things are a mess but there’s still something left.”

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Preview of new albums by Colin James, Lilly Hiatt, plus latest from Whitehorse, Adrian Sutherland, Shayla McDaniel

Colin James: As The Crow Flies

The guitar wizard and singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan will release his 20th studio album, Open Road, in November. It's a mix of originals and covers, including a couple of Dylan tunes and this song, written and originally recorded in 1972 by the late Tony Joe White.

Lilly Hyatt: Lately

Photo by Dylan Reyes
Coming just a year after her sophomore release, Walking Proof, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter has a new LP coming out this month, and we're bringing you the title track..

Whitehorse: Am I Just Gonna Stand There (While You Take My Girl Away)

We previously featured a couple of early singles from Strike Me Down, and now that the full album is out we're pulling out this breezy tune about an unhappy situation. "It's not that I don't care / To pull the strings in favour of me / But I could never ask you to love me more." So, the answer to the title question seems to be, yeah I guess I am.

Adrian Sutherland: Magic Hits

Our regular listeners are familiar with this singer-songwriter from Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario. The frontman of roots-rock band Midnight Shine just released his first solo album, When the Magic Hits. We previously featured "Right Here," and now add this sort-of title track.

Shayla McDaniel: Alright

Also familiar to our regular listeners is this songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Tennessee, who has been turning out a steady stream of singles on which she sings and plays all instruments. This latest track, with a full-band sound, is "about doing the best you can to feel the best you can, both inside and out."

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Courtney Barnett, The Black Sorrows, Maybe May, Raging Sons, Paul Carrack in our New Music bin

Courtney Barnett: Before You Have To Go

The second single to emerge ahead of the Things Take Time, Take Time album (due in November) is an amicable-breakup song. Stereogum writes that it "is built around a translucent cyclical guitar riff that lends the song both incredible forward momentum and a deep sense of longing. ...As with the prior single ["Rae Street"], there’s some resemblance to Barnett’s former duet partner Kurt Vile — that laconic, lysergic, loosely bluesy kind of folk-rock that might send you into a state of melancholy contemplation."

The Black Sorrows: Revolutionary Blues

Also from Australia, but on a different musical continent, is this blues-rock outfit led by guitarist/saxophonist Joe Camilleri. Hat tip to a listener from that part of the world who turned us on to the band, whose 19th studio album, Saint Georges Road, dropped this month. Says Camilleri: “The band really owns this track. It’s just a lot of fun. Initially, I had a different concept, but we took it into a country/blues/gospel sound. And lyrically, it could be about any time – there could be a revolution brewing somewhere."

Maybe May: Better

This Toronto-area trio is billed as using the fundamental r&r combination of guitar-bass-drum to blend "heavy instrumentation with graceful melodies which provide a rich tapestry for delivering messages of love, loss and betrayal." This song has a message of helping one another through difficult times: "Together, we will be better." It was inspired by the suicide of a friend, and the marketing effort for the single promotes the Canada Suicide Prevention Service.

Raging Sons: Square One

This quartet from Limerick, Ireland, sets out to merge "gritty, alternative rock with modern, dark
synth-pop." The lineup of Fint Tynan (vocals), Colum Kelly (guitar), Damien Ruddy (bass) and Adam Reeves (drums) has been together since 2018. They began releasing singles in recent months ahead of their pandemic-delayed debut LP, 20:20, now slated for October release. Of this song, Reeves says: "This is the sound we were striving for, all through the process recording of our album.”

Paul Carrack: I Miss You So

This veteran singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist has been making records since the 1970s with bands including Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze and Mike + The Mechanics, as a session and touring musician and as a solo artist. His new album, One on One, is the product of 18 months of riding out the pandemic in his home studio. And this song was inspired by the experience of having a new granddaughter and being unable to visit her initially.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

New: Lindsey Buckingham, My Morning Jacket, Aoife O'Donovan, Leon Bridges, The War On Drugs

Lindsey Buckingham: On the Wrong Side

You can take the guitarist out of the band, but ... The new LP, titled Lindsey Buckingham, is "the first of his solo albums to embrace all of the crowd-pleasing elements of Fleetwood Mac," writes AllMusic. "It's the work of an expert craftsman who relies on his skills as composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and guitarist to sculpt songs that comfort without succumbing to nostalgia." This song looks back at his years of touring with Mac: “I’m out of pity, out of time / Another city, another crime ... We were young, now we’re old / Who can tell me which is worse?” Riff Magazine notes that the track "includes the only extended electric guitar solo on the album, and it’s fantastic."

My Morning Jacket: Love Love Love

It's all you need, right? The lyrics ("The more you give yeah / The more you get now / Go tell it to the world") may have a familiar ring, but Jim James says he wanted the song to "speak toward positivity and pure love, finding truth within yourself and in the world around you.” It's a counterpoint to "Regularly Scheduled Programming," the gloomy first single from the band's ninth album (cleverly titled My Morning Jacket), due next month.

Aoife O'Donovan: Phoenix

We know her as one-third of I'm With Her (with Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins) but this Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter-guitarist also co-founded string band Crooked Still and has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Olabelle and more. AllMusic calls her "a go-to vocalist in the American contemporary folk, bluegrass, and progressive Americana scenes," while The Bluegrass Situation wrote that O'Donovan is "one of the best lyricists on the scene today.” Her fourth solo album, Age of Apathy, is due in January. Of this lead single, she says: "Late 2020 and early 2021 brought a wave of clarity and inspiration after a very difficult period of creative malaise, and ‘Phoenix’ is truly an ode to my own muse.”

Leon Bridges: Steam

This is the latest single to break out from the Gold-Diggers Sound album, named for the East Hollywood hotel where Bridges played a residency and worked on the songs. Paste Magazine calls his third album "yet another graceful, often captivating deviation from the retro path most critics probably expected him to stick with - particularly after earning a 2016 Grammy nod for Best R&B Album." At the Gold Diggers, he "jammed and wrote with an enormous cast of players and producers, arriving at a sleeker, jazzier sound befitting a space of such chicness."

The War On Drugs: I Don't Live Here Anymore

Photo by Shawn Brackbill
The title track from the Philadelphia band's upcoming album opens with a nod to Bob Dylan. "I was lying in my bed, a creature void of form," bandleader Adam Granduciel sings, borrowing a phrase from "Shelter from the Storm." The album is said to have a theme of "resilience in the face of despair." This song features backing vocals by Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius. Together, they sing: "We’re all just walkin’ through this darkness on our own."

Saturday, September 11, 2021

New sounds from Eddie Vedder, Amos Lee, The Churchhill Garden, The High Loves, Millie Manders

Eddie Vedder: Long Way

Photo by Danny Clinch
On our first listen to this new single, we noticed a strong Tom Petty influence - from the song's structure and lyrics to Vedder's vocal ("She took the long way / On the free-ee-ee-way.") So it wasn't surprising to learn that Benmont Tench of The Heartbreakers is part of the backing band (playing Hammond organ), along with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is the first track from the Pearl Jam frontman's upcoming solo LP, The Earthling.

Amos Lee: Worry No More

This soothing song seems perfectly timed for these anxious days of pandemic, climate change, political turmoil and the continuing repercussions of 9/11. It's the Philadelphia singer-songwriter's first release in four years. Local music blog The Key writes: "The music swells as Lee mixes in finger snaps and layered vocals that build up into visceral rush of tranquility. It makes you actually believe that everything will eventually fall into place." Lee says the song plays off a Bob Marley line: "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.”

The Churchhill Garden: Grounded

They've been referred to as a shoegaze band, but they're really a duo, and their latest single isn't really shoegaze. The Churchhill Garden began in 2010 as a solo project by Andy Jossi at his home in Switzerland. He collaborated with various vocalists, and in 2016 connected with American singer Krissy Vanderwoude. The trans-Atlantic pairing has become known for dreamy, melancholic music, but takes a more upbeat pop approach on this track, billed as "a toe tapping, hand clapping anthem which will speak to fans of bands like Lush and The Primitives."

The High Loves: Sometime

Earlier this summer we featured "Call Me Back"  by this Toronto-based indie-rock band. Here's another single from its upcoming Too Much of a Good Thing collection. Lead singer Noah Mockton says the lyrics were imagined as a goodbye letter to an ex. “It's about being okay with change, and letting someone you love go.” The other band members are lead guitarist Marko Stojanovic, keyboardist Jeremy Ugro, bassist Jake St. Jean and drummer Jaden Spanier. Elise Mariah adds backing vocals on this track.

Millie Manders and The Shutup: Your Story

This London band first hit our ears last month, and we featured the single "Broken Record." Now we're dipping back into their debut LP, Telling Truths, Breaking Ties, to drop another chunk of their punk-ish rock-and-roll into our New Music bin. Full disclosure: The album came out last year - but it's new to us, and we're betting it's new to most of our listeners. It's getting a fresh publicity push as the band embarks on an extensive U.K. tour. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Latest: They Might Be Giants, Dar Williams, Idle Dream, Emperor of Ice Cream, Dear Boy

They Might Be Giants: I Can't Remember The Dream

John Linnell, John Flansburgh and company will release their 22nd album, Book, in late October, along with... a book, of artwork. Linnell says the new songs are "humorously germane to the catastrophe going on around us.” This preview single describes TFW you wake up from a very pleasant dream and wish you could go back and live in it.

Dar Williams: Today And Every Day

The second single from the upcoming I'll Meet You Here LP is part of Williams' effort to encourage individual action to save the planet. She's inviting fans to share a link to the video (stop-action animation by Antje Duvekot) on their social-media accounts along with "3-5 things you do to save the world a little every day." The song's optimism is a counterpoint to the anger and cynicism in many current songs about the state of the world.

Idle Dream: The First Time

"I wanna know you when the party's over / I wanna know you when I am sober." As sung by Chris McGrath, what could be an awkward pickup line sounds like a genuine sentiment, a mix of anxiety and hope for romance. This Dublin duo formed in early 2020 when Connor McCabe joined what had been McGrath's solo project. They put out one single before the pandemic forced them to work together from separate locations. The word is the built up a repertoire of songs to be released in coming months, starting with this one.

Emperor of Ice Cream: Weather Vane

This Irish indie-rock band, which released a few EPs in the 1990s, re-emerged last year with its first full-length album, No Sound Ever Dies. Having pressed on through covid lockdowns, they're back with this single, described as a song about "a tornado of emotions when a relationship hits a rocky patch." The track is a trans-Atlantic production, assembled from parts recorded in home studios in Cork and Waterford, edited and mixed in New York and mastered in New Jersey.

Dear Boy: (On My) Mind

Photo by Matthew Reeves
Los Angeles music site calls this group "L.A.'s favorite Britpop band who aren't actually from Britain." The quartet consists of singer-guitarist Ben Grey, guitarist Austin Hayman, drummer Keith Cooper and bassist Lucy Lawrence. They have released a couple of EPs since 2013 and are working on their first long-player, to come out next year. This single, Grey says, "is about distance, and the complexities of being in love and apart.”

Saturday, August 28, 2021

New music from Sheryl Crow, Taylor Scott Band, Joan Armatrading, Amelia Meath and Blake Mills, The Wombats

Sheryl Crow: Everything Is Broken [feat. Jason Isbell]

The new live album is a 27-track collection of stellar live performances from 2019, mostly at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium. Spin calls it "a thrilling document filled with searing and emotive takes on her most beloved material, along with a wide range of guest appearances from the likes of Stevie Nicks, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Maren Morris, Lucius, and Emmylou Harris to name just a few. ... The full gamut of Crow’s impressive songwriting and impeccable musicianship on full display in this two-and-a-half-hour set." We put this Dylan cover in our New Music bin because it's a good stand-alone track, but recommend the whole LP and will be adding much more to our big mix.

Taylor Scott Band: Bleeding Out

Photo by Scott Lukes
The Denver-based guitar-rocker tells Grateful Web his new single is "an angry funk song about getting left high and dry. Musically, I wanted the heavy backbeat to get occasionally broken up by riffs and breaks that sound kind of wild and unhinged. The idea being when the backbeat drops in again, it’s that much heavier. I think the band slayed that feel on the recording. The song kicks especially hard live so we’ve been having a lot of fun with it on the road.” 

Joan Armatrading: Natural Rhythm

We've been spinning the single "Already There," and now feature the opening track from Consequences. It's the 20th album by the singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist whose self-titled 1976 release still stands as a classic. "Armatrading recorded Consequences at her home studio, multi-tracking all the vocal and instrumental parts herself," AllMusic reports, going on to say: "The production and arrangements lean to a clean and streamlined electronic sound, using the elements of dance music without the insistent pulse, and the contrast between the emotional warmth of the lyrics and the clean surfaces of the music is surprisingly effective."

Amelia Meath and Blake Mills: Neon Blue

This is the inaugural release from Psychic Hotline Records, launched by singer-songwriter Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn, the North Carolina duo who perform as Sylvan Esso. This song was born on a cross-country flight Meath took in 2019, watching night fall across North America as she flew to Los Angeles. Pitchfork tells us: "Meath recorded it in L.A. with Southern California guitar virtuoso Blake Mills. ... [They] tracked the song in a single session, then proceeded to tinker with the project on their computers, little by little, over the next two years."

The Wombats: If You Ever Leave, I'm Coming With You

The story of many pandemic-era releases: This indie-rock band of Liverpool origin recorded its upcoming fifth album remotely, with frontman Matthew Murphy in Los Angeles, Tord Ă˜verland Knudsen in Oslo and Dan Haggis in London. They'd meet daily on Zoom, record their parts separately and send sound files to their producers. “It was pure madness, to be honest,” Murphy said in a statement. Fix Yourself, Not The World is due in January. Murphy says this song developed as he saw the public health crisis "put some serious strain on interpersonal relationships." The title, of course, reminds us of Mental As Anything's 1981 single "If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?" We'll definitely play the two songs back-to-back now and then.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Santana, The Joy Formidable, Millie Manders, Beach Riot and Vistas land in the New Music bin

Santana and Rob Thomas: Move

Photo: Libby Fabro
The amazing career of Carlos Santana continues with his upcoming Blessing and Miracles LP, on which he collaborates with a wide variety of artists, writers and producers, including Steve Winwood, Chick Corea, Rick Rubin and many more. This first single is a reunion with Rob Thomas, 22 years after the Matchbox 20 singer and Santana had a monster hit with "Smooth." New York band American Authors provides additional vocals. "The song is about awakening your molecules," Santana says. "Ignite and activate yourself – you know, move. When Rob and I work together, we have a sound that’s splendiferous.”

The Joy Formidable: Interval

We've been spinning the title track from Into the Blue, and another single, "Chimes." Now that the full album is out, we're picking this track for our New Music bin. "Rhydian Dafydd’s bouncing bass line gives the rock song a danceable pop quality," writes Glide Magazine, which calls the collection "a multifaceted album of contrasts that melds pop hooks, rock guitars, and beautiful melodies in a way that crosses genres and tones and rewards careful listening."

Millie Manders & The Shutup: Broken Record

This London band's sound is described as cross-genre punk rock, and one critic called it the UK's answer to LA's The Interrupters. Frontwoman Millie Manders' powerful vocals are backed by grinding guitars and slamming drums, with horns adding a bit of punk-ska flavor. Manders says of this song: "So, you’ve been unceremoniously dumped ...  but you can’t stop thinking about them, dreaming about them, playing out every last moment in your head. It’s like a broken record.”

Beach Riot: Wraith

From London, we ride Southern Railway to Brighton and pick up the latest single from this "fuzz pop quartet" that we previously featured with last year's single "Wrong Impression." Their debut album, Subatomic Party Cool, is due next month. The band members - Cami Menditeguy and Rory O’Connor on guitars and vocals, Jim Faulkner on bass and drummer Jonny Ross - say that on this number "Jonny hits the hi hats so fast that his hands are actually playing 5 seconds in the future compared to the rest of his body. Also it’s a song about your life force being slowly drained away in a fading relationship and there’s nothing you can do about it but watch and brace yourself."

Vistas: Stuck In Your Head

We're catching up with this Edinburgh trio as they release their sophomore album, What Were You Hoping To Find. Music mag Dork writes that it picks up where their debut release left off: "The same big pop hooks, the same festival-ready vibes, the same wrestling with anxieties and doubts." Says frontman Prentice Robertson: “On our debut, we focused on the transition from our teenage years into adulthood, and on this album we asked the question: ‘Now that you’re here, what it is that you want?’ All the tracks on this record look at something where uncertainty plays a large role."